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Diet composition and feeding ecology of the naked goby Gobiosoma bosc (Gobiidae) from four western Atlantic estuaries

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The feeding ecology of the small‐bodied benthic naked goby Gobiosoma bosc, a western Atlantic species that occurs in estuaries and other inshore habitats from Connecticut to Texas U.S.A., was investigated in a total of four estuaries spanning South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey. Gut content analysis of 391 individuals revealed that G. bosc is a benthic microcarnivore that feeds primarily on polychaetes, gammarid amphipods and harpacticoid copepods. Diet composition varied with body size, tidal creek within an estuary and geographic region. Analyses of gut fullness suggest that G. bosc is a daytime visual predator and that nest and egg guarding during the reproductive season reduce foraging activity in mature males. Additionally, G. bosc infected with adult digenean parasites of the gut foraged more intensely than uninfected individuals, a relationship that was strongest for reproductively mature males. Regionally, significant variation in dietary breadth was documented and may reflect a foraging response to a decrease in prey diversity moving from estuaries of higher salinity and lower latitude to estuaries of lower salinity and higher latitude. These results contribute to an understanding of the life history of G. bosc and the role played by this common species in estuarine food webs.
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Keywords: feeding habits; generalist fish; gut content analysis; predator; prey

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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